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BN Prose: Tea in China by Abby Beckley

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tealeaf_1Ask me. Ask me, I dare you, you filthy, greedy, cheating, chauvinistic a**. No I will not have dinner with you when you and I both know the only reason you want to feed me is so I can be good and fuelled up for what you have in mind later. You pay for dinner with cash and I say thank you with my body? I do not think so; I especially do not think so because you are M-A-R-R-I-E-D. Let’s just spell it out because that’s what you are. At home, probably, there is a woman who has borne you children, cooked you food, washed your clothes, worried for you, cried over you. She has pledged to share what is left of her life with you, to create memories with you, to forsake all others you horrible, lecherous git and you have the freaking audacity to sit in that chair, playing with your expensive fountain pen and giving me what you must think are “come and do” eyes. How dare you proposition me? So dinner and then something will land me the job abi?

Time to respond: “I’m afraid I’m not available for dinner this or any other evening this week. I have prior commitments.”

Look at his foolish arrogant smile, he actually thinks I’m playing hard to get! That underneath it all I have some interest in him. The man is almost the same age as my father, in fact my father’s connections got me this interview. Is it wrong for a woman to be ambitious? Why must she open her legs to open the doors of her career? I refuse. Even if this man were single I would refuse but his being married makes him a complete no-no. Ah ah! God forbid bad thing. I, Omotayo Oyerokun, sleep with a married man– impossible.

At least I thought it was impossible until I met him. He wasn’t even my type. I like my men tall, ebony-skinned, lean with muscle, brimming with confidence bordering on arrogance and most importantly single, available, unattached, on the market and every other synonym that means they have no significant other.

I had been sitting in the waiting room of yet another multi-national company, mentally preparing myself for yet another interview and hoping against hope that the person who interviewed me would be a woman and would see my skills and not my skirt when he popped his head around the corner and said to the nice receptionist, “Deola! Where’s my tea?” She rolled her eyes but gave him a smile and got up. “I’ll be back soon,” she said to me as she made to follow him through the door which he had come from.

“Ah ah, dey no hear of Women’s Liberation round here? He’s got two feet and a heartbeat let him make his own,” I joked to her in what I thought was a whisper. Evidently I had underestimated the volume of my own voice and he had heard. In the next minute my view of the wide screen television on the opposite wall was obscured and he was standing before me with his arms crossed.

“Ehn hehn, so you want to champion Women’s Lib in Africa abi? For that you can make me the tea!” he bellowed.

I didn’t even check his face I just looked to Deola for some sort of help. She giggled then said, “Chidi, leave the poor girl alone. I will make your tea.”

“This is not a poor girl oh,” he disputed, “A poor girl doesn’t have mouth like that! Two feet and a heartbeat ko, four legs and a liver transplant ni.”

By this stage I was so embarrassed I had been stunned into silence – quite unusual for me. He took no pity for my obvious discomfort and just stood staring at me which was when I took the opportunity to get a look at him.

He was medium height, quite a strong yellow hue to his brown skin. His hair was cut in one of those afro-mohicans that I really don’t feel – it’s a bit too nouveau riche footballer for my tastes. He was stylishly dressed; he could have literally just stepped out of a Ne-Yo video or something. There just seemed to be too much effort in his appearance so I was immediately put off, then of course glinting on the ring finger of his left hand was a thick platinum band, there was writing engraved on the band, perhaps his wife’s name or the date of their wedding or something just as sentimental.

As a package most of my brain immediately said no but remember what I said about arrogance and the fact that he was standing before me demanding that I make him tea? It was like a Thomson’s gazelle shaking it’s butt in front of a hungry cheetah singing “Whatchu gonna with all my  junk, all that junk inside my trunk?”

I felt my shoulders bunch up with tension and anticipation, I looked him squarely in the face and said, “If you expect me to prepare you tea you should know that were you to fly to China, sow a whole new crop, harvest the leaves, dry them, bag them and bring them back to Nigeria I would still not have got off this chair to make you a cup.”

I saw his eyes widen in amusement.

“Ah ahn! It’s like that ehn? You know you this girl; you talk too much.”

I nodded, “I do,” I agreed.

“So you won’t make me tea?” Chidi asked.

“Wait, what department do you work in?” It suddenly occurred to me that if he was part of the decision making team over whether or not I got a job with this company I had just totally ruined my own chances. Me, my self-righteous feminism and my big mouth.

“Marketing. And you’re here for the ten-thirty interview,” he told me with the smuggest of smiles.

I made to get up, “I’ll just leave now shall I? Go and look for the next flight to China? You like Jasmine or just plain old black tea?”

He started laughing. “Follow me,” Chidi said. As we walked down the corridor we passed a number of offices until we came to the end where he turned into – the staff kitchen.

“Lipton will be fine,” he said, “Milk and one sugar, thanks.” With that he left. I stood there for a short while wishing oh so hard that I had a rewind button on my life. After I made the now hateful tea I wandered back down the corridor unsure where to go till I heard him call me by my full name, middle names included. He must have got hold of my application form and CV.

“In here,” Chidi called out. I entered the office and placed the tea on the table in front of him – my third choice of places to deposit that hot beverage. “Have a seat,” he offered.

I sat and we talked. We talked over lunch, and talked over dinner and still we talked. He had been married for four years and had a son, he showed me pictures. He was half Igbo and half Yoruba. Chidi Akinola. Chidi Akinola who laughed heartily when I joked and spoke with a searing honesty; Chidi Akinola with whom I felt immediately comfortable and let down my guard… It did not matter that we both disagreed strongly over the worthiness of Shina Peters’ contribution to the Nigerian music industry at large – for me waste of space, for him Afro-juju was highly relevant, in every way that seemed to matter; we clicked. The click was so strong I felt sure they would have heard it in Zamfara.

When the talking stopped we found ourselves in the boys’ quarters of my parents’ house which was where I stayed. At that point things were weighed so heavily in favour of the inevitable I think it would have been near impossible for me to halt it. My body overruled that little voice in my mind telling me what I was about to do was wrong, and did so with such forceful alacrity it was as though something had possessed me and was holding the reins. The act in itself was incredible, so wrong and so wonderful that at the finish I could not feel ashamed. I tried to submerge myself in guilt but I simply could not feel any. Neither could he. Our coming together happened so naturally, so blissfully it was as though his marriage was the mistake and not our adultery. Afterwards, I tried to work out the precise moment when my principles dissolved and I lost my sexual morality. Was it in the office when he stood before me? Was it over dinner? Had it been gradual or immediate? Whenever the point had been I, Omotayo Oyerokun had slept with a married man and would do so again and again until his marriage shattered.

28 Comments

  1. Rosie

    March 15, 2010 at 9:41 am

    hmm. quite heavy, what can i say? That i’ve been there b4? So i understand it all. The criticisim against those who do date married men and then actually fallin into the same pit! Taught me a strong lesson: never to be quick to judge. good piece.

  2. teris

    March 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    ahem! that is one helluva short story!

  3. duchess419

    March 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Interesting piece, funny at times and quite inner challenging at times and yes I have been there and yes I hoped the married would shutter too cause I thought I was HIS best thing since sliced bread, but alas, what a foolish notion, sliced bread was invented way before I. So short to say is that, he got what he wanted and left – as they all do. Read well, listen and learn, and as we mature, we can judge cause we have been there and done that and yes gotten the t-shirt. It never lasts and no matter how bad the situation is or was at home, he will eventually go back. The needs is stronger and always survives and yes now my great fear is the great lady, KARMA..

  4. eephi

    March 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    all i have to say is: if the places were exchanged and you were the mrs left at home whilst your husband is frolicking in the arms of another, would you be so quick to accept this ‘chemistry’?

  5. yonpe

    March 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    lol…his marriage may not eventually shatter i tell ya!!!is it not a Naija guy, he’ll just keep lying to the wife na

  6. Tess

    March 15, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I was just like Tayo so resentful of the idea of dating married men till i moved out of my family house and started staying alone. It was like a whistle was blown and heard by only married men. Tall, Short, Handsome, Rich just name them, were everywhere around me. I held on for some time till I met this ONE
    Truthfully, I stopped it on time but i know that it wasnt me, It was God. That was when I stopped judging and started praying for ladies in this kind of shit.
    The bottom line is, it never ever ends well………………remember KARMA

  7. Baba

    March 15, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    People r funny o! This is a story, why is eephi talking about reversed roles?? Well written Abby.

  8. Favoured Girl

    March 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    This is a nicely written piece. Well done Abby, it made me laugh and shake my head too.

  9. Lullaby

    March 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I love this story because it shows how easy it is to get into this situation. A simple conversation, turns into lunch/dinner, you find out you have lots in common, he makes you laugh, you are in tune with each other. You don’t intentionally go out like a vulture on the hunt to break up a happy home. Love just happens and you find yourself in a bad situation. You know it’s bad, everything in you screams NOOO! But it feels sooo good. You ask yourself constantly how something so bad can feel this good.

    You try and you try to get out of the ‘situation’ but you can’t stop thinking about him. You see him, you feel him, you smell him even when he is not there. Everything reminds you of him. It’s like you can’t escape him even if you were somehow able to make yourself stop seeing him. You try and pluck the courage to tell him that it’s over but when you see him, your heart just melts away. He is like a drug, like cocaine, you are always needing a fix. Or is it juju? Has the guy done some form of juju to make you lose everything mama taught you.

    You start to pray every night that God should give you the strength to stop the madness! It doesn’t help that he is constantly texting to say how much he loves and misses you. How do you stop? How does an intelligent, confident woman lose all sense of rational thinking? You begin to feel like the victim because you are the one who is wrapped up in an unbearable guilt, can sleep, can’t eat, losing weight etc You feel damned if you somehow find the strength to stop and damned if you carry on. Either way you feel you will have no peace.

    Ladies, sometimes the ‘other woman’ isn’t the witch trying to break up a home, she is fighting her own demons as well. This does not justify her actions though.

    This is not a personal story, but I have learnt not to judge so harshly and to pray that I never fall into a situation where I’m the ‘other woman’ or the woman fighting to save her marriage.

  10. Funmi

    March 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I am always impressed by the short stories that BN features… Really liked this one… One should never judge others in cases like this because you never know what you would do in that specific situation. All we can hope for is guidance to make good decisions.

  11. El

    March 15, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Nice piece Abby…Funny thing tho…I know someone named Omotayo Oyerokun to the T…Just that the someone I know is male…lol

    Your story hit so close to home…Fiction though it may be…these things do happen!

  12. Ngoo

    March 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Wow….

    Great story…. even if it is fiction… twist it around and it becomes REAL for a lot of us!!

  13. Banke

    March 15, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Isn’t this very similar to the situation of Titi in your series FG?

  14. Nicole

    March 16, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Nice work Abby. You are steadily improving and in leaps and bounds too. I loved the story but especially appreciated the title, “Tea in China.” I thought it was very innovative as well as significant or maybe more so, very revealing. For me, Omotayo’s “laying down of arms” so to speak began with that exchange. Write on!

  15. Myne Whitman

    March 16, 2010 at 7:11 am

    This is really good and happens more often than we think.

  16. I wonder...

    March 17, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I wonder if it would have been easy for all the “I’ve been theres” to “confess” if there were no nicknames… I’ve actually been there myself :)That’s when I understood the power of a praying wife cos no one can tell me that it wasn’t her prayers at work. She told me point blank that I would not have peace… and I didn’t. It got so bad that I went on my knees and PRAYED. told God to destroy whatever was tying me to him… barely a month later, the “gadgets” he got me got stolen, he suddenly realised he loved his wife and stopped calling and then the disrespect began… It took a while but I healed… and now I fear for when I get married…

  17. Afribabe

    March 18, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Nawa 4 dis girl o…dis is y men grade us so low nd we think its all fun..not even da fact dat he’s a married man but dis ur first meetin wid him, less than 24 hourz…stupid girl, u think he will leave his wife 4 u. just keep waitin till he finishes u nd throw u in da trash were he knows u belong

  18. Shola

    March 19, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I particularly like the title, very witty and smart!!!

  19. Psm139

    April 11, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Very good work Miss B. Love your stories.

  20. Tomisn

    April 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    lol..glad to see you have gotten deep into the BOOK! it’s fiction mate…

  21. mo

    April 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    words r just too easy;it cant b me,i’ll neva b caught dead …nothing scares me like adultery n
    i pray now in my unmarried state against it cos i know neither strength nor will prevails…let he who tinketh he stands take heed lest he falls…

  22. mo

    April 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    rily gud piece!

  23. Joy

    May 8, 2010 at 2:11 am

    this

    is

    DEEP!

    –> loved it!!!

  24. Trez

    May 9, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    You are a very good writter. I am a critic and couldnt find a thing to criticize on. The story is sooo real and makes one think. I’d like to follow you on twitter to see what uve got next 🙂

  25. Aibee

    May 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Really good story. Very deep too. It took me a couple of seconds to comprehend the fact that she had gone from morally ‘upright’ to conspirator in the sin of adultery.

    I’ve been there too and its hard to let him go when he is everything you ever wanted in man.

    Karma? Hmm. I pray it misses my doorstep when I get married cos I dated a married man for 2 years. The power of a praying wife.
    My fave part of the story? Find below:
    “In here,” Chidi called out. I entered the office and placed the tea on the table in front of him – my third choice of places to deposit that hot beverage. “Have a seat,” he offered.”

    The options being his laps, his head and the table in that order,lol.

  26. wow to y'all

    September 22, 2010 at 12:06 am

    its surprising how many girls have slept with married men..im still not married yet but wifey, just in case i start cheating..know its KARMA from your past though I, i dont believe in it..thats simple.

  27. Rissa

    June 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    this was a cool piece to read.props up Abby> you just make me wanna write, i feel my fingers twitching. keep it up. I suggest you make a book of short stories like this it sure will be a bestseller.

  28. chi

    June 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    lovely…. but no shatter his marriage oh for does in it.

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